Research released by The Challenge today reveals that thousands of schools across England are segregated along ethnic and socio-economic lines.

 Seaosnal rolesThe study includes information from all of England’s 20,000+ registered state schools. It is the first report to look at segregation by comparing schools’ ethnic and free school meal intakes with those of the ten schools closest to them. The study found that:

  • More than a quarter of primary schools and four in ten secondary schools are ethnically segregated.
  • Almost a third of primary schools and more than a quarter of secondaries are segregated along socio-economic lines.
  • Areas seeing increased school segregation include Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire; Kirklees in West Yorkshire, the London Borough of Barnet and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

In terms of our definition of ethnically segregated or socio-economically segregated, we describe a school as ‘segregated’ if the proportion of ethnic minority pupils or pupils on free school meals is very different to the proportion of pupils from the 10 nearest schools in the area.

The report calls for national government, local authorities, faith schools and academy chains to consider the impact admissions policies have upon neighbouring schools and put policies in place that encourage better school and community integration. There is clear evidence that the segregation of children contributes to the growth of distrust and intolerance of others who are different, and that more mixed schools are beneficial for social cohesion.

Responding to the report, Jon Yates, Director of The Challenge, said:

“This study shows far more needs to be done to make sure school intakes are representative of local communities. We know that when communities live separately, anxiety and prejudice flourish, whereas when people from different backgrounds mix, it leads to more trusting and cohesive communities and opens up opportunities for social mobility.

“One of the key recommendations in this report is that the government, local authorities, academy chains and school leaders should continue to promote the National Citizen Service – a programme that The Challenge delivers. NCS is a tried and tested way of bringing young people from different schools and backgrounds together to create an integrated and strong society.

“Shortly, The Challenge will be launching a new campaign – EqualNotDivided – to encourage more integrated schools that reflect our diverse society and where children from all walks of life can mix.”

You can read the full report here and find out more about our EqualNotDivided campaign here.